cerebral museum

Tangier (el sobaco de Marruecos)

Posted in Uncategorized by Cassandra on April 5, 2010

Tangier is the furthest Northern tip of Africa, and my final stop. I booked a one-way ticket to Morocco and planned on catching a ferry across Gibraltar to Algeciras and a train home from there.

Africa

Tangier, Algeciras and The Strait of Gibraltar... silly to think it's still a British enclave after all this time.

I decided to spend one night in Tangier so as not to miss my train the next day. I arrived into Tangier in the afternoon. The rain was falling rather hard, but I took a walk around the city after finding a place to stay for the night. Had some couscous for dinner, took a couple of photos in the main plaza when the rain let up. The city wasn’t all that exciting… I can see how at one time it was a place to be, but can’t say I’d go back if I had the chance.

just carryin' a couple pigs through traffic. no big deal.

Sitting at the café where I took this picture, right at this moment, I was eating mediocre couscous. This would absolutely ruin the next 72 hours. Ended up with the worst case of food poisoning I’ve ever experienced, which stayed with me through a sleepless night, a 10 hour slow/stormy ferry ride across the strait the next day, missing my train in Algeciras (another shithole), and a 9 hour overnight bus to Madrid just about did me in. I crashed for 20 hours straight upon arrival.

Tangier's main plaza, just south of the medina.

view of the strait from the top of my hostel

I liked these plants

I had the sense to buy dramamine (huge box for 80 cents? love those Moroccan pharmacies) and a huge bottle of water before the ferry ride. The fast boats weren’t running on this particular day due to the insane weather, so I had to take the slow boat. Unbeknownst to me, these vessels don’t leave until they’re full. Rad. So, I passed out onboard for hours after taking the dramamine only to realize that we hadn’t even left yet. That plus another 5 hours to get across (keep in mind it’s only something like 7 nautical miles!?) This is how I missed my train.

Gibraltar!

Don’t remember much of the ferry ride, so stoked that I had the sense to take these photos.

Spanish waters

Summary: Tangier food poisoning and ferry to Algeciras are decidedly the lowest points in my trip. Still though, it was all absolutely 100% worth it. (just never eating in Tangier again!)

Fez, Morocco

Posted in Uncategorized by Cassandra on April 4, 2010

Fez, Morocco

The Fez medina is the largest urban car-free city in the world. The buildings are covered with mosaics (primarily green) and it’s built on a hillside in a valley surrounded by a mountain range. I spent new year’s there… probably my most relaxed ever.

It was  a great city. Met a lot of locals, ate some incredible food I’d never tried, and almost got run over by pack laden donkeys more times than I can remember. The streets are super narrow and, without cars for transport, the businesses rely heavily on the animals.

looking over the Medina and skins drying in the sun on the hillside, Fez

live ones on the hilltop.

Stayed at a really nice little bed&breakfast. The owner was a teeny little Moroccan man who lived his whole life in France and worked in architecture. He visited Morocco for the first time at age 70, fell in love with Fez, and moved there a month later to open the hotel. We talked for a couple of hours over tea. Really awesome old dude. Had some sweet views from the top of the building, too.

jacket I bought in Marrakech, hanging from hotel room door.

public fountain, still heavily/regularly used

I hear Fez is known for it’s fountains.. makes sense. They’re on almost every corner and very intricate. Spent most of my time there wandering through the maze of souks. Stopped in to a traditional art museum on new year’s eve.

doorway

for Luke.

museum levels

The medina was much more claustrophobic and higher built-up than Marrakech. There are only a few calmer, open-air plazas. Still though, I really enjoyed the city. Definitely would return if I got the chance.

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Volubilis (ancient Roman ruins), Morocco

Posted in Uncategorized by Cassandra on April 4, 2010

Half the reason I decided to stay in Meknés was to be able to visit Volubilis. It’s the site of ancient Roman ruins, built sometime around 3000 BC. Some of the fallen pillars have been righted after earthquakes in the past 500 years and I hear that a good amount of marble was stolen to build Meknés in the 18th century. Still, it was a definite sight to see. Blew my mind that so many of the floor mosaics and walls are still standing after 5000+ years.

Volubilis, Morocco

(Sidenote: going to go back and add maps to travel posts.)

basilica remains

basilica

acrobat on horse

arc de triomphe

ancient olive oil mechanics

seasons mosaic

There are storks that nest at the top of one of the columns. You can kind of see it in the shot above. It started to rain just as I was leaving. Decided to walk the mile or so to Moulay Idriss. The clouds were moving fast and the sun was setting and the air was feeling electric. Blows my mind to think about the history of this place. Started pouring later on but still it was warm outside.

I caught a quiet train the next day to Fez, which lies a couple of hours further East .

fjkda

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